Look, I’m going to be completely honest with you here: I’m not exactly the most impartial critic when it comes to the Muppets. For instance, I can say with complete confidence that I know more about Muppets Tonight supporting character Big Mean Carl than I do about my neighbors, and that’s not about to change anytime soon. So look, just seeing said monster on screens again (not to mention Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, and the other characters even you’ve heard of) is practically enough for me to end the review here and say “Muppets Most Wanted wins ten stars. Go buy eighteen tickets and a Gonzo t-shirt.” But I’ve been writing reviews for long enough to know that’s not how you’re supposed to do things, and Stony Brook Press editor Jodie Mann said that I could make this review as long as I want, so here we go.
Muppets Most Wanted is the direct sequel to 2011’s excellent Jason Segel-helmed Muppet reboot, aptly-named The Muppets. This time, Kermit plans on leading his chaotic ensemble on a tour of Europe, but is hindered by the machinations of the world’s most dangerous criminal, Constantine. Since Constantine just so happens to look almost identical to Kermit, no one realizes that he is now leading the Muppets on a jewel heist and Kermit has been shipped off to a Siberian gulag.
If that sounds stupid, you’re absolutely correct. Muppets Most Wanted was, without question, the stupidest movie I have seen in years. Let’s get this out of the way right now: there is absolutely no logical way that any of the Muppets would think Constantine is Kermit, as he continuously flubs their names and speaks with a terrible, stereotypical Russian accent. That’s not the only ridiculous flaw, either. Even I have to admit that the film has its fair share of rough edges, especially when the puppeteers rely on shoddy blue screen effects. But the secret to why Muppets Most Wanted is the funniest movie I’ve seen in a while is because the team behind the film was 100 percent committed to making the stupidest heist movie ever made. I mean this is the sort of movie where the heroes travel to Germany from California by taking a train that goes backwards over Canada and south via Scandinavia. Every single moment leads to some sort of pun, gag, or visual joke, and almost all of them land flawlessly. I found that I was completely willing to suspend my disbelief because it was much more entertaining to laugh along with the Muppets than to criticize them.
The Muppet that’s unquestionably the breakout star of the film is Constantine. Performed in an over-the-top fashion by Matt Vogel (the puppeteer behind The Muppets’s scene stealers Uncle Deadly and 80s Robot), he is a hilarious parody of both every spy movie villain and Kermit the Frog himself. Moreover, the movie’s three lead actors—Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, and Ty Burrell—are all even more entertaining than I predicted, and the team of puppeteers are as zany as always.
At the end of the day, this movie definitely has a high standard to meet from Jason Segel’s 2011 Muppet movie, which was critically-acclaimed and featured the Oscar-winning song “Man or Muppet.” Yes, none of Bret McKenzie’s new tracks are as memorable as that one, but each song the soundtrack is clever, catchy, and none would feel out of place in an episode of Flight of the Conchords. Sure, that earlier film was a heartwarming exploration of the power of nostalgia and what it means to be an adult, while this movie just wants you to laugh at cheesy accents. Muppets Most Wanted is nothing but joke after joke, but these jokes are funnier than any of the ones in that last movie. If you’re in the mood to have your mind expanded, this certainly isn’t the right film for you. If you’re expecting a flawless movie, this isn’t the film for you either. But if you’re in the mood for some good, stupid fun, I can’t recommend this movie enough.


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